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Surprising Science

Nano Change

Tiny metal particles can cause changes to DNA without crossing the cellular barrier, researchers have found.

“Tiny metal particles have been shown to cause changes to DNA across a cellular barrier – without having to cross it,” reports the BBC. “The nanometre and micrometre scale particles resulted in an increase of damage to DNA across the barrier via a never-before-seen cell signal process. Reporting in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers say the mechanism could be both a risk and an opportunity. They say the preliminary result is relevant as more medical therapies rely on small-scale particles. For instance, nanoparticle-based approaches are being considered for use to improve MRI images or direct the delivery of cancer drugs. However, they concede their model system is far simpler than the human body, where the effects will be harder to unpick.”


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